Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm Not Athletic

When I was a youngster long ago, people didn't tell us kids that we could be anything we wanted to be if we just tried hard enough, which was just as well. We'd have known they were lying, or we'd have figured it out pretty quickly.

I was a skinny kid, and I wanted to run fast. That was about the extent of my ambition for a while. Later on, though I wanted to be Roger Bannister. How likely was that? For me, not likely at all, not even within the realm of possibility. Why? Because I was slow. I was once beaten in a grade-school race by a desk. You can learn to be a lot of things, I guess, but fast isn't one of them.

I also loved baseball. After I gave up on the four-minute mile, my plan was to go the the major leagues as a second baseman, but I was a terrible player. I didn't know at the time that I could barely see out of my left eye and that I had the coordination of a puppet with broken strings. I just knew I couldn't run and I couldn't hit no matter how hard I tried. Very disappointing.

Of course my reflexes might have had something to do with it. Turtles are quicker than I am.

And I'm not built for athletics, especially running. I'm bowlegged. I'm not sure that my early life had anything to do with that, though my father did want me to be a cowboy, and I learned early to ride a horse. The cowboy thing didn't take, but I do have the legs for it. If I stand with my ankles together, a large dog can walk between my legs and not touch either one of them.

So my becoming a runner and staying one for many years was a big surprise to me. As you might guess, I'm not a good runner. I'm slow, and I'm awkward, but I'm persistent. I wasn't sure I could be, but it turned out I could. I've been persisting now since 1971. That's almost thirty-seven years now, no matter what the title of this blog is.